SINGAPORE: A toddler died from a head injury due to trauma after a mirror fell on her in a Jewel Changi Airport shop, a coroner has ruled.
In findings released on Tuesday (Apr 21), State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam said there was no basis to suspect foul play in the death of 18-month-old Lai Jiaxin, and that it was case of a tragic misadventure.
The Chinese national had come to Singapore with her family and family friends for a holiday and were waiting at the airport for their flight back to Fujian, China when they went shopping.
While at retail shop Urban Revivo on Aug 23, 2019, Jiaxin's mother Madam Lai Dongmei went to the fitting room, leaving Jiaxin and her six-year-old brother in the care of their grandmother.
Jiaxin's grandmother and the grandmother of two other children were browsing through clothes racks while keeping an eye on the children, who were playing and running around the store, the court heard.
Jiaxin's brother and the son of Mdm Lai's friend squeezed into a small gap behind a 166kg mirror. Jiaxin was standing in front of the mirror when one of the boys squeezed out from behind it.
The mirror fell and crushed Jiaxin. Her mother heard shouts and ran out of the fitting room to see Jiaxin's grandmother helping to lift the standing mirror off the toddler, who was bleeding profusely.
Jiaxin was taken to hospital but found to be unresponsive, with copious bleeding and no pulse. She was pronounced dead later that day after more than an hour of resuscitation attempts.
READ: Jewel Changi Airport toddler death: Mirror fell when two boys squeezed out from behind it, crushing girl
An autopsy certified her cause of death as a head injury due to trauma from the mirror falling on her.
Mdm Lai said she accepts that her daughter's demise was the result of an accident and does not blame anyone, said the coroner.
Jiaxin's grandmother said she had tried to carry and hold onto Jiaxin while the other children ran around the store, but Jiaxin refused to be held.
She said the other grandmother had cautioned the kids not to play near the mirror, but the next thing she heard was a loud thud and the mirror lying on top of her granddaughter.
A report jointly prepared by Urban Revivo and the manufacturer of the mirror stated that the mirror's design was approved and a prototype was tested for safety and stability.
The mirror was assessed to fall forward only if a person used intentional or excessive force to push it forward, or if it was shaken from the top.
The prototype was found to be slightly unstable when shaken from the top, so its height was increased to 1.99m, taller than the average adult, so that it was unlikely for a person to push the mirror over from the top. A brace bracket was added to the back support to enhance the stability of the mirror.
WHAT URBAN REVIVO SAID
Urban Revivo's chief legal officer Lucas Xu said that the mirror was constructed "based on the behaviour of the reasonable customer who was not expected to squeeze through the gaps behind the mirror".
The mirror was 1.99m high, 0.6m wide and was tilted at an 85 degree angle, he said, adding that the mirror weighed 166.5kg and was designed without any bolting or fixing to the ground.
He said that this was because the layout of the store needed to be changed regularly, and that the mirror was created specifically for the Jewel Changi Airport store and that it was unique to that store.
According to Mr Xu, Urban Revivo had consulted with design experts from South Korea on store design and the design company had carried out "several rounds of review" about fixtures, including the mirror.
He added that the mirror, designed by a team based in Guangzhou, China, had gone through various rounds of internal vetting before it was produced.
Mr Xu told the court the design team had considered the safety aspects of the free standing mirror and that there were no reports of any incidents involving the mirror before Jiaxin's death.
Brand general manager Tan See Ling said the store later conducted risk assessments at its Singapore stores and implemented several measures to improve store safety.
These include: Removing all free-standing mirrors from the stores, screwing down and reinforcing mirrors required for operations, sanding down table edges and rearranging clothes railings to eliminate gaps and prevent children from playing around them.
Staff are also now required to be alert and look out for children who are roaming freely in the stores, and to speak to parents immediately if their children are spotted behaving inappropriately or left unattended.
Training for the new safety checklist has also been provided, with periodic audit checks.
"In the circumstances, I find Lai Jiaxin's demise to be a tragic misadventure," said the coroner. "Having stated my findings, I wish to convey my condolences to her family for their sad loss."